Favourite Christmas Traditions

What are your favourite Christmas traditions? We asked seniors at The Marleigh, a BayBridge Senior Living community in Unionville, Ontario, to let us peek at how they celebrate the holidays.

“I lost my mother when I was 7, so I was looked after by an aunt. We didn’t do much but she would always get a big Christmas tree that almost touched the ceiling topped with a fairy doll dressed all in white. We’d put ties on the branches and have friends over to sing. I lived in a poor area and the local notables used to put on big parties for us. Once I was chosen to go to a party at the home of some upper class people. What a party it was! Toys, food — we were indulged.” – Irene

“I was raised on a farm, and we didn’t have any family, so Christmas was ordinary: my sister and my two brothers and I. I do remember at New Year’s that men used to come over and spread our house with mixed nuts for good health and a good year. This came from being raised with a Ukranian background in North West Manitoba. It was quite nice because my parents never bought nuts. After I got married, we got together with his family and my family. There were a lot of people, and the children were never invited to sit at the table: we stood around while the adults ate. I remember that vividly. When I was in charge of Christmas in my own home, I set up places for the children: my mother-in-law looked shocked that the children were eating before the adults!” ­– Emily

We didn’t have a whole lot, but as a little kid I used to think my parents were rich because Santa came every year.

“I come from a large family, four sisters and a brother. My mother had a couple of brothers, so we used to trade hosting with my uncle. If we hosted Christmas Eve, they would host Christmas Day. My mom would put on a feast and we’d all sing Christmas carols and the kids would be hyper waiting for Santa. We didn’t have a whole lot, but as a little kid I used to think my parents were rich because Santa came every year. How Mom and Dad managed that, I don’t know. I didn’t find out until later but we would get a basket of things from our church, which put them together for people in the parish who didn’t have much. We grew up thinking we had more than enough.” ­– Sal

“In the Greek Catholic Church, our calendar is different so we celebrated Christmas on January 7th. Generally, we went to church at midnight on January 6th. We started Christmas Day by eating honeyed wheat. That was a must, the first bite you had was wheat in a honey sauce to symbolize the sweetness of life. As children, the week before January 6th, we went door-to-door with wheat in our pockets. We knocked and threw wheat to wish people a good crop. In return, people would give us money — a few pennies or a nickel. This was the early 1920s, so if I collected 15 or 20 cents, I felt rich. That would be like a kid today having $10!” – Stephen

“My family gets together on Christmas Eve with my sister and her children and grandchildren. My kids have been really good about taking turns hosting and everyone brings dishes to share. We used to sing Christmas carols but this generation doesn’t do that. This year, I’m using a room and we’re going to have it here at The Marleigh. We have a Santa suit, so someone in the family dresses up as Santa. The youngest grandchild is 2 and the next youngest is 7. I’ll bet he’s going to look at the shoes and try and guess who it is!” ­– Marion

Enjoy your favourite traditions and discover new ones: find a BayBridge Senior Living community near you

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